Saturday, April 30, 2022

BREAKING NEWS: Lake George Being Emptied

The Crittenden Press Copyright 2022

Community leaders say that although the plan has changed, everything is going as planned at Lake George.

A leak in the levee at the 65-acre lake – the City of Marion’s raw water source and home to fish, wildlife and other natural resources – has prompted its complete draw down.

City officials noticed that the levee was leaking on Wednesday and when inspectors took a closer look they found a hole about halfway up the levee that was growing by the hour. It began to enlarge exponentially late Friday, triggering an emergency response to prevent the levee from failing and creating downstream flooding on Crooked Creek, which rises just above the lake and meanders northward before emptying into the Ohio River at Old Fords Ferry.

A decision was made to empty the lake. The levee will have to be completely rebuilt, local officials say. County Judge-Executive Perry Newcom has issued a State of Emergency which should lead to state and perhaps federal financial assistance. 

After dark on Friday local fire departments brought their pumper trucks to the lake and two 4,000-gallon-per-minute pumps were trucked in from outside the county to begin emptying the lake into Crooked Creek. However, the draw-down was taking far too long so officials asked Jared Belt of Belt Construction, a local excavating company, to bring a track hoe to the lake. 

“We had to get the water out quicker,” Emergency Management Director Jason Hurley said, pointing to fears that the levee might break. “We made a decision to cut a relief ditch in order to control the flow.”

“At this point everything is going as planned,” Hurley said. 

Monitors are keeping a close eye on the volume of water being released from the lake into Crooked Creek. They are closely watching bridges on Chapel Hill Road, U.S. 60 West, KY 91 North, Fords Ferry Road and others that cross the now swiftly-running creek. The controlled release of water from the lake should not create any problems downstream, Hurley said.

The lake contains about 182 million gallons of water and it will take more than a week to drain it, Hurley said.

Officials from the Kentucky Division of Water, EPA and state dam and levee inspectors were on scene to consult and oversee the process.

Lake George was built 1954. In addition to being the city’s primary source of raw water – which is purified at the nearby water treatment plant – the reservoir and its surroundings are a recreational area used by fishermen, naturalists and picnickers. 

City Administrator Adam Ledford has said that Marion has Old City Lake as a backup for raw water and the Crittenden-Livingston Water District can supplement the city’s drinking water distribution system. As of Saturday, there had been no order for customers to reduce water usage.

It will likely take several months for the levee to be repaired and longer for the lake to refill and recover. Its fishery resources could take a generation or longer to recuperate.

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